- Associated Press - Monday, May 5, 2014

STURGIS, S.D. (AP) - George Kane doesn’t see himself as an inventor.

But he isn’t one to turn away from a challenge, either.

All the Sturgis man wanted was to come up with a way to keep his grandkids from losing fishing poles.

Kane was fishing with his now 7-year-old grandson, George Stalley of Pierre, on a dock north of Pierre in April of last year.

A big Northern Pike tried to yank the boy’s fishing pole off the dock.

“Kids love to fish for about five minutes,” Kane said. “Then they want to put the pole down.”

Kane’s daughter, LaDene Nemec of Pierre, saved the day by grabbing the pole at the last second.

The boy said he had lost another pole before and Kane heard stories of similar misfortunes from other anglers.

“My grandson said ‘Grandpa, you’ve got to do something to keep me from losing poles,’” Kane said.

Kane went to work at his kitchen table in Sturgis and came up with a simple solution, a pole holder designed from a couple of sturdy wire hoops welded to a post.

Welded to the other end of the post are two cross-pieces, spaced about two inches apart. The device is inserted into the gap between fishing dock deck boards and rotated 45 degrees to lock it into place.

A neighbor offered a welder to help Kane assemble about 20 samples of the design.

Other anglers who tried the prototype told Kane he had built a winner and urged him to apply for a patent.

“I had no idea that I would do anything with this, other than being a challenge from my grandson,” said Kane, who honed his abilities to improvise and innovate growing up on a farm near Lemmon.

“As a farmer, I invented stuff to make machines work better, but I never tried to get anything patented. I was always trying to be what’d you call a problem solver,” he said.

Research at the Sturgis Public Library gave him directions on how to apply for a provisional patent for his invention, which also needed a name.

“I got to thinking, this thing is going to save a lot of poles, so we called it Fish Docktor. Just kind of a catchy name,” he said.

Kane enlisted Al and Nick Bruch of Sturgis Unique Creations to help him manufacture his fishing pole holder.

Al Bruch designed a jig to bend, cut and weld the wire pieces together.

“He recognized the idea right away and has been a big help. He can make them so much faster,” Kane said of Bruch.

Kane has since sold about 50 Fish Docktors at $14.95 each, marketing them on a website, fishdocktor.com, designed by his son, Glen, of Rapid City and through an agreement with Amazon.

He also sold a few from a booth at the Black Hills Sport Show and Sale in Rapid City last month.

Kane served as commissioner of school and public lands under Gov. Richard Kneip from 1973 to 1979 and moved to Sturgis with his wife Margie in 1995 after he retired from the real estate business in Pierre. Margie died in 2011.

At this point in his life, Kane, 82, isn’t looking for another career.

“It’s been pretty interesting, but it’s more of a hobby than anything else,” he said of his foray as an inventor. “It’s been a learning experience for an old guy.”

He certainly doesn’t expect to make a fortune selling Fish Docktors.

“It ends up the guy that welds them for me and Amazon make more money on it than I do,” he said.

“I never developed it with the thought of getting rich from it. I developed it to give my grandkids and great-grandkids a better fishing experience,” he said.

A challenge met, and problem solved.

“They haven’t lost a pole since,” he said.

___

Information from: Rapid City Journal, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com

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